Fears for Tourism Rockingham funding

TOURISM Rockingham president Stacey Graham is concerned the group’s funding could be withdrawn as part of a City of Rockingham review of the City’s tourism strategy.

Mrs Graham said there were anomalies in the wording of a recent discussion paper, which she claimed amounted to funding not being guaranteed for the not-for-profit organisation after 2020.

Mayor Barry Sammels was surprised by Mrs Graham’s claim.

“I guess I’m a little surprised at this being brought up at the last minute,” he said.

“What I said to you on the phone earlier is that I am very supportive of Tourism Rockingham and the impression I got after meeting with them was that they were concerned about having a visual presence in the area and wanted to know if they would still remain at the Gary Holland Centre.”

The City hopes to develop a tourism business model to update its involvement with tourism.

A report prepared for the council said Tourism Rockingham as it currently operated was outdated.

The review was held after a consistent trend of declining visitor numbers to the centre.

“Rockingham is one of 12 featured Experience Perth destinations and in the last decade its share of visitors has fluctuated between a high of 7.6 per cent and a low of 5.8 per cent,” the report said.

“Rockingham’s growth in total visitor numbers (averaged over the last 10 years) is sitting at around 3.3 per cent, versus 3.8 per cent for Experience Perth and 4.5 per cent for WA.

“With visitor growth tracking slightly behind the market, Rockingham’s share of total visitors will gradually decline.

“There is no evidence that the Visitor Centre is growing the number of people who visit Rockingham. Even as annual visitors increase, the number of people who utilise the Visitor Centre services is in steep decline.

“Over the next decade, our Visitor Centre customers are predicted to fall to 46 people per day.”

Cr Andrew Burns said tourism was rapidly changing and if the Visitor Centre and if the City did not make changes they would be left behind.

Chief executive Andrew Hammond said his understanding was that funding would not be cut fully to the group; rather, a different operational approach was being investigated.

The motion for the council to investigate changes to the City’s strategic involvement with tourism was passed 9-0.